Mitch Albom, author of “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet In Heaven”, published The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto in November 2015. Here he has created a great novel about music.
The novel chronicles the epic life of legendary guitarist Frankie Presto. Frankie possessed exceptional musical talent. He was a rare guitarist, but he also captivated people as a vocalist and became a man of the hour.
Although Frankie is a man above our heads, he is so human that we feel a strong affinity with him, and readers are naturally drawn into his psychological portrayal. One acoustic guitar and its six strings, which Frankie carries with him at all times, add color to the story.
I will now proceed with the outline of the novel and my reading impressions.
In the 1930s, Frankie was born in a Spanish church during the air raids of the civil war. His mother died soon after giving birth to Frankie. Soon after, Frankie was cared for by a nun, Josefa, who, in her poverty, left him in the river. Luckily, Frankie is rescued by a hairless dog and goes to live with a man named Buffa. Frankie grew up thinking that Buffa was his real father.
When Buffa notices Frankie’s musical talent, he takes him to see the blind El Maestro, who was once a musician, and gives him guitar lessons. Frankie becomes a fine guitarist after his time with El Maestro.
Buffa, now a prisoner of war from thought policing, tells El Maestro where his savings are and asks him to send Frankie to the United States. Buffa also gives El Maestro a magic guitar and six strings. Blind El Maestro asks his friend Alberto to help Frankie get to America, but Alberto betrays him. Alberto drowns El Maestro, steals the money, and dumps Frankie in London.
In London, Frankie meets the famous gypsy guitarist, who invites him to join him on a tour of the United States with an orchestra. It is here in America that Frankie discovers that Buffa is not his real father.
Frankie reunites with his Spanish girlfriend Aurora at the end of the day, but their relationship quickly falls apart as Frankie’s fame grows. Aurora leaves Frankie, and Frankie marries a famous actress. Later, Frankie and Aurora are reunited. At that time, Aurora gave birth to a little life, but was involved in an incident and miscarried.
Frankie and Aurora move to Waiheke Island and adopt a child named Kai. There, Frankie is approached by a young band called The Clever Yells, who secretly record Frankie playing while chatting with his family and call the tape “The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto”.
Aurora convinces Frankie to revisit Spain with her. There, Frankie looked for El Maestro, but was unable to rejoin him. Frankie meets Alberto by chance. When Alberto confesses that he once killed El Maestro, Frankie almost shoots him dead.
Frankie stayed in a monastery in Spain for three years before returning to Waiheke. Unfortunately, Aurora was killed in an accident during a hurricane, and Frankie sets out to find the original recording of “The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto” for Kai.
Kai, now a musician, asks Frankie to attend an awards ceremony in Spain. When they perform “La Grima” together there, Frankie sees dead people on the balcony, including Aurora and El Maestro. The souls fly out of Frankie’s body, and his body crashes down on the stage.
Thoughts on Reading
First of all, a special mention should be made of the story surrounding Frankie. First of all, it is worth mentioning that Mitch Albom’s skillful storytelling technique and structure, as well as the development of the story surrounding Frankie, is magical! The “I” who narrates the book is the music itself. This “I” introduces himself as follows
I am Music. And I am here for the soul of Frankie Presto. Not all of it. Just the rather large part he took from me when he came in to this world.
It’s like Japanese Soseki Natsume’s “I am a cat” (*^-^*).
The story alternates between “interviews with celebrities who visited Frankie’s funeral” and “stories surrounding Frankie” narrated by music. The subtleties of the alternating evocations of the passage of time and the people involved are the novel’s real appeal.
I, the author of this review article, was recommended this book by my Filipino English teacher. After reading this book, I understood what my teacher said to me. That message is not “Study English with this book!”. But it is “Use this book as a guide for your life”. I think that is the message she intended.
She (my teacher) also reflected on the book in this way,
After reading it, I realized that music is beyond notes and melodies and rythm. For some music is life but for others it’s identity, their very own existence.
Also, I wanted to share this quite I took note, It applies to life.
“You cannot ask things to do what they are not meant to do. Eventually they will break.”- it’s El Maestro talking to little Frankie.
I think that is really true. First of all, through Frankie’s life, we are reminded of the preciousness of music. And I myself strongly felt that I am not a subjective being. I realized that I am a being kept alive by all kinds of relationships.
Frankie’s mother died shortly after giving birth. Frankie went to live with a man who found him. The man saw Frankie’s talent for music. Frankie was also discovered by a great teacher who taught him to play the guitar rigorously.
As a boy, Frankie was simply influenced by others in his environment. Where was he to choose his own path? But interestingly, this passive experience propelled him to become a top star. What worked here? I cannot help but think deeply about the causes. There must have been the result of Frankie’s own spontaneous thinking and action.
All occurrences are related. Whether we take advantage of them or kill them is related to the choices we make. What did Frankie, whose fate was in the balance, choose to do at that moment in time? I invite you to experience the thrill of it through this book. There is also a dramatic twist to the story. I can’t tell you about it here. Please enjoy it.
In this issue, I wrote about my reading of “The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto” by Mitch Albom. What can you feel through the life of the legendary guitarist* Frankie Presto? The book also features many famous musicians. There is even a scene where that John Lennon and Frankie have a conversation!
Please also refer to this article.